The Malik Report
Red Wings mid-day news: on Jurco, Khan questions, a Subban offer sheet’s feasibility and more Mantha
by George Malik on 05/14/14 at 11:42 AM ET
Updated 3x at 2:17 PM: As I'm writing this, Jakub Kindl's Czechs wrapped up a 2-0 win over Italy (no points for Kindl, but he finished at +2 in 19:07 of ice time), and Tomas Tatar's Slovaks will battle Norway at 1:45 PM EDT...
And much of Red Wings fans' focus has involved the exploits of Anthony Mantha--quick update, the Val-d'Or Foreurs open the Memorial Cup on Friday against London, not Thursday, sorry about that--to the point that the Red Wings posted an article in which Jiri Fischer discussed his progress, and Michigan Hockey posted Mantha's game-and-series-winner from last night's game (so did I, FTR), the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner and Michigan Hockey's Pat Evans want us to set our sights a little closer to home.
Tomas Jurco scored a hat trick and got in a fight (as Slapshotg0al from Winging it in Motown posted on her YouTube channel) on Tuesday night, powering the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 5-2 win over the Texas Stars, but the Griffins still trail their second-round series 2-1 as they prepare to host Texas again (tonight at 7 PM EDT), so Wallner suggests that the Griffins may need a similar performance from Jurco to jump-start their offense.
Wallner notes that last season, the Griffins benefitted from the returns of Gustav Nyquist (who's playing at the World Championships and behaving like a gentleman off the ice in Minsk) and Joakim Andersson, but both players are unavailable, and Jurco...Would've preferred to play at the World Championships for Slovakia, but Griffins coach Jeff Blashill's glad that Jurco (and Riley Sheahan) ended up in Grand Rapids instead:
"When Jurco came back, we talked about this as an opportunity to be the go-to guy, which he hasn't been since he was in juniors," Blashill said. "Last year, the first half of the season he survived, then in the second half he was real good but he wasn't the go-to guy. In Detroit, he wasn't the go-to guy. Outside of the beginning of this year and now, he hasn't had the opportunity to be that. We needed him to be one of the go-to guys, and I think he's done a great job with it."
Blashill's plural usage refers in part to right wing Teemu Pulkkinen. Similar to the storyline a year ago between Nyquist and Jurco, Jurco's presence takes pressure off Pulkkinen, who is in his first full year in the AHL and has held his own with a team high eight points (3-5-8).
Jurco has paired with Sheahan, his center in Detroit, and Mitch Callahan for a top line that has produced some grit. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Jurco mixed it up in the closing seconds of Game 3 with his first AHL fight, a brief scrum with Texas tough guy Curtis McKenzie.
The last time Jurco had the scoring spotlight in a playoff series was in juniors with Saint John in 2011-12. He had 29 points (13-16-29) in 16 postseason games in the QMJHL. The role is just the latest opportunity to an eventful season so far.
Jurco had this to say to Michigan Hockey's Evans:
“Last year, I was a rookie, I wasn’t a go-to guy,” he said. “I was trying my best, but there was [Tomas Tatar} and [Gustav Nyquist], they were huge for us. I was talking to Blash and he told me I have to be a go-to guy this year.”
It’s not just about goals scoring though, it’s about the whole, rounded game. With 12.5 seconds left in the game Tuesday night, Jurco dropped the gloves.
Although Blashill said he doesn’t want his player fighting, he likes seeing that toughness.
Jurco said he’s been playing hard, and wanted to add some physicality to his line, with Mitch Callahan and Riley Sheahan. In Tuesday’s late game instance, there was some dirtiness in front of the Griffins’ net, and a Star pushed Jurco away. That made him mad and they “just grabbed each other.”
He said he’ll try to keep it going throughout the playoffs.
“I came down form Detroit and I’m trying to play hard, finish the checks, get points, gets goals, get the team going,” he said.
The Griffins just happened to post a post-morning-skate video preview of tonight's game (via RedWingsFeed)...
And WOOD TV8's Larry Figurski's confirming the Griffins' personnel tweaks (if Twitter's blocked at your place of work, part 1: Martin Frk and Jordin Tootoo will play tonight; still no Adam Almquist):
I know you're not fans of auto-play videos (neither am I), so I'll link you to Luke Glendening's interview with Fox 17's Steve Amorose, and the Wings just Tweeted that they're keeping Glendening occupied despite the fact that he can't play for the team due to his waiver-exempt status expiring (if Twitter's blocked at your place of work, part 2: here's a picture of Glendening pushing the dirty laundry cart under assistant equipment manager Andrew "Steggy" Stegehuis' watchful eye):
This report from WOOD TV8 shouldn't surprise you...
The Grand Rapids Griffins hit the ice Tuesday night and as the team defends the Calder Cup, businesses in downtown Grand Rapids are looking at staffing levels for the next three days.
The Griffins host Game 3 of the western conference semifinals; they are down two games in the best-of-7 series. Games 4 and 5 are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday night in Grand Rapids.
Some restaurants and bars around Van Andel Arena, like HopCat, are taking a closer look at having additional staff for the big crowds the next few nights.
Business managers say the regular Griffins games bring in a lot of extra business and the playoffs are just a bonus; especially coming off of the weekend with all of the extra customers from the Riverbank Run.
And if you don't mind, let's shift our focus to the NHL level for a moment. MLive's Ansar Khan answered some "business of hockey" questions while filing a mailbag feature...
Q. With Kindl being paid like a top-four defenseman, do you see him being our final compliance buyout? He's a 5-6 (defenseman) at best in Detroit and watches from the press box too often. Apply his money to (Danny) DeKeyser on a two-year bridge deal.
A. Zero chance Kindl will be bought out of the final three years of his contract (at $2.4 million per season). Why pay him to go away when they can trade him (he's only 27 and defensemen are at a premium) if they determine he doesn't fit into their long-term plans?
Q. Why did the Red Wings rush into signing Jakub Kindl to a long-term deal last year? How disappointed were management and coaches with his play this year and what is his future in the organization?
Do you feel Ken Holland has become too passive in exploring big deals in recent years (trades)?
Why doesn't Johan Franzen play to his potential? Is it all mental? Does he think too much? Why is he so passive so often and only has spurts where he plays hard and physical?
A. They signed Kindl following a strong 2013 season, when it appeared as if he had discovered his game and was trending upward. I'm sure they were disappointed he took a step back, appearing to lose confidence and lacking competitiveness. With so many promising young defensemen in the system (Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko, Mattias Backman, Nick Jensen), Kindl's future with the organization is in doubt.
It's hard to say whether Holland has become passive when you don't know what trades were at his disposal. I'm guessing teams looking to deal with the Red Wings aren't inquiring about fourth-line players and 35-year-olds; they're asking for the likes of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Brendan Smith and some of their high-end prospects. I'd be reluctant to deal those pieces, too.
I'm sure many in the organization have pondered those questions about Franzen and not come up with any answers.
Q. If a trade is made requiring the moving of youth, which would go and why? Smith, Nyquist, Tatar, (Riley) Sheahan, (Tomas) Jurco?
A. I don't see any of those players being traded in the near future. Down the road, Smith might be more apt to being moved than the others due to the depth of defensemen in the system. I could see Nyquist being a lifelong Red Wing. Sheahan is a good-sized center who plays a 200-foot game; you hang onto players like that. Jurco has a much-desired combination of skill and physicality. Tatar has terrific open-ice moves and good hands in tight. If, for some reason, they had to move one of them to get what they want, I'd say it would be Tatar because of his size.
And since so many of you have VERY STRONGLY INTONTATED that you'd like the Wings to throw a restricted free agent offer sheet at P.K. Subban, ESPN's Craig Custance examined that possibility--as well as the concept that the Canadiens might re-sign him--in an Insider-only entry this morning:
In January, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the asking price for Subban in contract talks was in the $8-9 million per season range. If the Canadiens win tonight and Subban keeps guiding this team into the Conference finals and potentially beyond, that may be on the low end. He’s got 12 points in 10 games and has outplayed almost every other defenseman in the postseason.
Factor in his age -- he just turned 25 years old this week -- and the lack of available talent on the market, and his price keeps climbing. Subban is represented by Don Meehan of Newport Sports, an agency that tends to maximize value on its biggest clients, especially when they have the kind of leverage they’ll have in this case.
“I would bet Newport Sports is looking at 10 [million] times eight,” said one NHL source who has negotiated a number of deals with Newport. “What do I think he’s going to get? He’s at least at $8.5 million.”
According to Jarrett Bousquet of Titan Sports Management, there were four or five teams he called legitimate options for [Shea] Weber to pick as destinations for an offer sheet.
The cap is going up this offseason, and outside of Matt Niskanen and Dan Boyle, there’s not much help on defense among unrestricted free agents. Certainly nothing close to Subban, which is one reason why Bousquet believes an offer sheet is a possibility.
“I think GMs would look at them if it’s a player of his caliber. The bottom line is, it’s in the CBA and it’s a way for general managers to improve their teams. All general managers are looking to improve their teams. Talking last summer with some general managers, just regarding other players, they were open to conversations,” he said when we chatted Tuesday afternoon. “If I was a GM and had a defenseman of P.K.'s caliber, I would be nervous and prepared to defend it or look at every option possible.” The problem is that it could be a giant waste of everybody’s time. Montreal has left itself cap flexibility to get a deal done with Subban. To land a restricted free agent, you almost need a perfect storm of cap issues on the other end, along with a team willing to accept the compensation. That doesn't fit the Canadiens, a team that now appears to be entering its Stanley Cup window.
Put bluntly, as Custance suggests, the Canadiens do seem to view Thomas Vanek as nothing more than a rental, and if they let Vanek, Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta and perhaps Douglas Murray or Francis Bouillon go, Capgeek estimates that the Habs could have as much as $27 million in cap space at their disposal--and the Canadiens might end up competing with the Wings for the Niskanens, Boyles, etc. if they want to boost their defense.
The Canadiens have one of the NHL's deepest-pocketed owners in Geoff Molson, they're one of the league's biggest markets, and nobody's going to scare the Habs with a Sergei Fedorov-style front-end-loaded offer sheet that pays Subban a cap-max $12+ million salary and a $12+ million signing bonus for the first couple of seasons.
It's a nice thought--just as those of you who seem to believe that Kevin Bieksa can somehow be pried away from the Canucks (not gonna happen) are hoping for the best--but it's not gonna happen. Subban will remain a Canadien.
And finally, going back to the beginning, Mantha's Foreurs posted a Facebook video thanking their fans en Francais, and this is his championship-wining goal...
Though I think the non-embeddable, French-language interview he conducted with TVA Sports is perhaps even more fun as he starts by saying a very un-French Canadian thing--OH BOY...
And this morning, TVA Sports posted a clip of the Foreurs returning to Val-d'Or (fear not, the legal drinking age in Quebec is 18, so the beers are kosher), which requires no translation, a clip describing Mantha's goal and an interview with local legislative representative Pierre Corbeil which does require translation, and the Foreurs' Facebook page's cover is pretty cool (click to embiggen and play spot the tall kid in the back row)...
As is--again--a picture Mantha posted on his Instagram account:
Update: As RW19 notes in the comments below, well, from TSN 1050's "Mike in the Morning" show:
8:15 Rob Rossi – Pittsburgh Tribune Review
At this point Penguins ownership is basically considering “a complete overhaul” after last night’s untimely exit. Dan Bylsma & his assistants future remains in doubt because “ownership is very unhappy with the lack of recent drafts/accountability/overall toughness.” Reports indicate that GM Ray Shero COULD be fired & that Evgeni Malkin WILL NOT BE MOVED (he has a full no trade clause & would return to the KHL if traded from Pittsburgh) however the team might lean towards trading Letang/Neal, & Marc-Andre Fleury’s future remains tenuous. The Penguins are also expected to pay very close attention to the Mike Babcock/Detroit Red Wings situation.
Update #2: FYI, from the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:
Don’t let the sunshine, the long-gone snow, or even the spring rains convince you that the local hockey season is over. Those participating in the Parking Lot Battle, slated for May 30-31 at Tecumseh Arena, would beg to differ.
All proceeds from the three-on-three road hockey tournament to be contested on six inflatable rinks in the arena’s parking lot will benefit Sparkles From Above, a local non-profit organization looking to raise $70,000 to fund a palliative care unit for pediatric cancer patients at the Metropolitan campus of Windsor Regional Hospital.
Among the rink sponsors are NHLers and former Windsor Spitfires Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils and Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers, Windsor’s Matt Martin of the New York Islanders and former Detroit Red Wings centre Kris Draper. Both Henrique and Draper are expected to be on hand during the competition. Warrior Hockey and Noble Trade are also sponsoring rinks.
Competition will be offered in five divisions – an open division for players born 1996 and earlier, 1997-98, 1999-2000, 2001-02 and 2003 and later. Games begin May 30 at 5 p.m. and go from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 31. Team entry fee is $175.
For further information regarding the tournament and sponsorship opportunities or to register a team, contact Marc Crevier at (519) 791-9642 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the web site, http://parkinglotbattle.com.
You will also not be stunned to read the Canadian Press's list of players to watch at the Memorial Cup:
Anthony Mantha, Val-d'Or Foreurs — At six foot five and 204 pounds, the QMJHL's most valuable player scored 57 goals in the regular season. The Detroit Red Wings prospect was also Canada's leading scorer at the world junior championships.
Update #3: Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager suggests that this Memorial Cup will be the best one since 2005's Perry-Weber-and-Crosby-attended event:
One can only project current teenage prospects so much. This tournament might not have the top-end talent of the 2013 tournament in Saskatoon that boasted three of the top four NHL picks with the Halifax tandem of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin and Portland's Seth Jones. It also boasted six of the first 16 selections.
The field makes up for it with depth. Fifteen players are top-50 selections. The chart below doesn't even take into account the best draft-eligible talent, Guelph's Robby Fabbri, who just became the third 17-year-old player to ever be the Ontario Hockey League's playoff MVP.
2014 Memorial Cup CHL team Age Draft slot NHL org.
Griffin Reinhart Edmonton 19 4th/2012 Islanders
Bo Horvat London 18 9th/2013 Canucks
Max Domi London 18 12th/2013 Coyotes
Nikita Zadorov London 18 16th/2013 Sabres
Curtis Lazar Edmonton 18 17th/2013 Senators
Kerby Rychel Guelph 19 19th/2013 Blue Jackets
Anthony Mantha Val-d'Or 19 20th/2013 Red Wings
Michael McCarron London 18 25th/2013 Canadiens
Henrik Samuelsson Edmonton 19 27th/2012 Coyotes
Jason Dickinson Guelph 18 29th/2013 Stars
Mitch Moroz Edmonton 19 32nd/2012 Oilers
Matt Finn Guelph 19 35th/2012 Maple Leafs
Tristan Jarry Edmonton 18 44th/2013 Penguins
Anthony Stolarz London 19 45th/2012 Flyers
Brock McGinn Guelph 19 47th/2012 Hurricanes
In the here and now, it seems astounding the Detroit Red Wings were able to trade down last June to draft Mantha, who only scored 24 goals in as many playoff games, including the last-minute Game 7 winner. Still, it's a list of NHL aspirants that bumps out Winnipeg Jets signing Scott Kosmachuk (the No. 70 pick in 2012), who had 101 points in the OHL regular season.
The Memorial Cup is not always going to have a breakout star on the level of MacKinnon, Crosby, Taylor Hall with the 2009 and '10 Windsor Spitfires and Jonathan Huberdeau with the 2011 Saint John Sea Dogs. Having one player to focus on is great for TV purposes, but if anyone bemoans the lack of star power in London, let it go in one ear and out the other. It's a deep talent pool.
London will inevitably end up hosting the Memorial Cup again in another nine or 12 seasons, sure as shooting, so that might be a good time to look back at how everyone fared at the next level.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.